Top 100 Movie Review: No. 066: Bonnie and Clyde (1967)

Ranked 066 on the IMDb Top 100 Movie List (as May 2017).  Watched April 2020.

Cast: Warren Beatty (Clyde Barrow), Faye Dunaway (Bonnie Parker), Michael J. Pollard (C.W. Moss), Gene Hackman (Buck Barrow), Estelle Parsons (Blanche Barrow), Gene Wilder (Eugene Grizzard)
Director:  Arthur Penn
My rating: 8.5 / 10

In the middle of the Great Depression, Clyde Barrow (Warren Beatty) and Bonnie Parker (Faye Dunaway) of Texas meet when Clyde tries to steal the car belonging to Bonnie’s mother. Bonnie, who is bored by her job as a waitress, is intrigued by Clyde, and decides to take up with him and become his partner in crime. They pull off some holdups, but their amateur efforts, while exciting, are not very lucrative.

Clyde struggles to be intimate with Bonnie and it is a problem for them both for the duration of their time together.

The duo’s crime spree shifts into high gear once they hook up with a dim-witted gas station attendant, C.W. Moss (Michael J. Pollard).  Bonnie and Clyde turn from pulling small-time heists to robbing banks and start becoming very famous.  Their exploits also become more violent. When C.W. botches parking for a bank robbery, Clyde shoots the bank manager in the face after he jumps onto the slow-moving car’s running board. At this point Clyde suggests Bonnie leave him as she wasn’t yet known but Bonnie states she isn’t going anywhere as long as it’s exciting.

Clyde’s older brother Buck (Gene Hackman) and his wife, Blanche (Estelle Parsons), a preacher’s daughter, eventually join them. The women dislike each other on first sight. Blanche has nothing but disdain for Bonnie, while Bonnie seems bored with the house wife and later is irritated with Blanche’s screaming and unpredictable behaviour which Bonnie believes puts the group in danger.

The gang is pursued by law enforcement, including Texas Ranger Frank Hamer, whom they capture and humiliate before setting him free bound in a canoe. A later raid catches the outlaws off guard, mortally wounding Buck with a shot to his head and injuring Blanche. Bonnie, Clyde and C.W. barely escape alive. With Blanche sightless and in police custody, Hamer tricks her into revealing C.W.’s family name (Moss), who was up until then still only an “unidentified suspect.”

Bonnie and Clyde hid out as C.W.’s family home with his father Mr Moss being nice directly with Bonnie and Clyde but arguing with his son who he thinks has been corrupted. Finally Bonnie and Clyde become intimate and Clyde proposes marriage which she considers.

Off-screen Hamer locates Bonnie, Clyde and C.W. and makes a deal with C.W.’s father so that in exchange for leniency for C.W. he will help set a trap for the outlaws. When Bonnie and Clyde stop on the side of the road to help Mr. Moss fix a flat tire, the police in the bushes open fire and riddle them with bullets. Hamer and his posse come out of hiding and looking down quietly at the dead couple as the movie ends.

What’s to Like
The cinematography, the Depression era clothes, buildings and  vehicles, the connection Bonnie and Clyde establish including Bonnie being almost and equal in the crimes (a rare thing in 1920s movie depictions).

What’s not to Like
While the acting of Estelle Parsons was borderline okay her constant screaming in terror got on my nerves but somehow she won an Academy Award for this performance.

A movie the for the majority of the run time glorifies crime as a way to live an exciting life.  Clyde is extremely satisfied when Bonnie’s story of their crime spree is published as they are now famous.

It’s hard to know how much this is based on real life story, even in the movie it’s noted many times how the newspaper stories about the crimes cover events that they could not have ever committed.  What is definitely true is all the people killed and the brutal end of this famous couple.

A very enjoyable movie.

Academy Awards

  • Best Supporting Actress (Estelle Parsons) – winner
  • Best Cinematography (Burnett Guffey) – winner
  • Best Picture – nominee
  • Best Director (Arthur Penn) – nominee
  • Best Writing (David Newman and Robert Benton) – nominee
  • Best Actor in a Leading Role (Warren Beatty) – nominee
  • Best Actress in a Leading Role (Faye Dunaway) – nominee
  • Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Gene Hackman) – nominee
  • Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Michael J. Pollard) – nominee

About Nathan

A World traveller who has so far experienced 71 countries (76 by June 2023) in this amazing world.
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